Beyond Digitization: Kevin Bandy’s Three Guiding Principles

The former chief digital officer at Cisco believes that digitization isn’t about an end game. Rather, it’s an ongoing effort that requires process re-engineering, adaptive technology and an open mind.

For more than a decade, Kevin Bandy has led transformational growth efforts at some of the world’s most influential companies, including Accenture, Salesforce, and Cisco, where he recently wrapped up a three-year stint as chief digital officer. Having been a Docusign customer at multiple companies, and now as a member of Docusign’s advisory board, Bandy believes that digitization is the key to growth at any company in every industry.

But digitization isn’t all about technology. To Bandy, it’s much more than deploying new software. At Cisco, he complemented the company’s product innovation by shifting the focus away from selling only hardware to adopting a new “consumption”-based business model, consisting of bundled hardware, software and services.

“Digitization is not a technical strategy,” Bandy says. “It’s the establishment of new business models, and the examination of business processes that need to be re-engineered in support of the new business model and then automated.”

Like Cisco, many established companies across every industry face threats to their traditional businesses from disruptive startups and rapidly changing customer needs. As a result, companies need to adapt quickly—not just with technology but also with new processes.

Here are three of Bandy’s guiding principles for going beyond digitization to true business transformation.

#1: Digitization is not just about automation

Traditionally, CTOs and IT teams look at digital transformation through a technical lens, often prioritizing automation. So, other business leaders, such as CEOs and boards of directors, must focus on the broader strategic implications of digitization efforts, including technology, in order to understand the impact these efforts will have on the business.

When Bandy arrived, Cisco—as a result of years of rapid growth and numerous acquisitions—had automated processes with a wide variety of agile cloud technologies in different departments, a model that did not support the shift in strategy. To address this, Cisco first had to standardize its processes in order to adapt to the new business model—before applying technology. This business effort was done in conjunction with IT, so as business process re-engineering occurred, the supporting technical architecture could quickly follow.

“We looked holistically at the need to re-engineer processes to permit the business as a whole to move forward, not just individual functions,” says Bandy.

A case in point: Bandy discovered that Cisco’s salespeople had an opportunity to gain about seven hours of productivity per week per person if they could better navigate non-standardized sales processes across different product lines. That equated to billions in sales opportunities and improved customer satisfaction which had been negatively impacted by a disjointed and complex sales experience for customers using multiple Cisco products.

The lesson? Digitization is more than automation. It’s about first re-engineering processes, then automating them with technology that is highly adaptive to ongoing process changes.

#2: Ask yourself: Can the new technology help me solve problems in new ways?

The most fundamental aspect of process re-engineering is determining how a new technology can change your business model. Can it empower you to solve problems in new ways?

At Accenture in 2004, Bandy found that if the company could unify its management consultancy, systems integrators, and outsourcing business, it could grow its business by offering customers revenue growth strategies and not just cost-cutting solutions. Instead of implementing individual technologies, a unified Accenture could re-engineer clients’ business processes and then automate them with agile technologies that adapt to changing customer needs.

Complementing the core cost-cutting capabilities with long-term growth enablement established the groundwork in 2004 for what is now Accenture’s industry-leading SaaS practice and Digital business unit.

#3: Transformation is never-ending and requires a fresh perspective

Digitization is not a one-time project; it’s an ongoing cross-functional process. Companies need to continuously evaluate and reinvent in order to meet customer needs. New technologies are emerging faster than ever, which, in turn, means more opportunities—in some cases, imperatives—to transform.

“A decade ago, companies believed they could change their business models every 9 to 10 years. Today that’s about every 18 to 24 months,” Bandy says.

To keep that pace, Bandy stresses the importance of outside perspectives. He recommends bringing in external competencies to take a fresh look at a business and catch things that those from within may not see. In digitization efforts, the employees’ competencies must be routinely assessed and investments must be made to empower them to evolve with the company. Again, supplement technology with ever-advancing employee competencies.

“If you rely on the view from within,” he says. “You’ll probably find your internal changes are incremental.”

From digitizing agreements to modern Systems of Agreement

Adaptive technology is at the heart of creating an ever-evolving company and facilitating ongoing changes in business processes. Docusign has evolved beyond eSignature technology to offer a modern System of Agreement platform, which lets customers better imagine what’s possible for their businesses with confidence that their agreement technology can adapt easily to company changes, no matter how frequent.

“Most companies adopt electronic signature because it’s a fast and obvious win,” Bandy says. “The challenge is to think beyond digitizing the signature to re-engineering the full agreement process. How can it be connected and automated in a way that’s most efficient for the business and that delivers a game-changing experience for customers and employees?”

Docusign’s System of Agreement Platform is the technology driving companies’ transformation of agreement processes—from preparing, to signing, to acting on and managing agreements. See the video showing how Salesforce (where Bandy served as SVP of Enterprise Transformation) has modernized its System of Agreement with Docusign.

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